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Preview: Mr. Gobley

Mr. Gobley

Seeking the Divine in the mundane -- and celebrating it.

Updated: 2018-03-06T03:03:32.071-06:00


To My Father, Who Has Stepped Out


Now, you can rest.

Having sloughed off the rack of aching bones,
You can simply be,
In that way that flash bulbs
Hover and dance on the cornea,
Though long since 
Brittle and burnt.

Your presence, always stolid,
Has become an insistent absence,
And we, your children, have become
Weaving through the liquid world,
Catching atoms of you
Borne on the current of loss.

Memory being what it is,
You begin now to appear in fine form,
But always a shade removed
From the moment,
A part of you hanging back
With those
Like you now,

Had moved beyond the scrim
Of certain presence,
And dissolved,
At last,
Into the
Stream of
--Mr. Gobley

In Praise of the Old Man


Even when you were my age
You were old:
Suffering and loss
Solitude in the midst of tumult
A wife overcoming polio
The cares of career
(And six kids) --
And a back
Aching from all that you had carried.

Now you have seen almost a century
And gotten younger all the time.
Not in body, to be sure,
But in brightness of mind
And clarity of vision.

Almost a prophet,
You see over the rim
Of life's horizon
And call back the sun --
The world is your
Wall of Jericho --

To measure out the wisdom
Of pure wonder.

Do stay --
Stay on, Old Man,
That we
Who sprang from your loins
May know more fully
How, toward the end,
Time for the truly virtuous
Stands still
And moves backward a little
The sun hesitating
For that eternal moment
Above the emerald sea.

--Mr. Gobley

Presence and Absence


Nothing is here
That has not spread its wings

Nothing is gone --
Its imprint is pressed
In the record of all things.

All is not lost --
All is here, untouched,
Unmediated, swift.

Why hold on tight,
When everything that lives
Must learn to drift?

This is your course --
Relayed to you
In hearbeat semaphore:

Toward Presence, mere Presence,
That near, that distant shore.

--Mr. Gobley

In Praise of Books


The warped spine and the peeled cover
Remind me
That the book, like me,
Is a mere mortal:

A flame from the spark of a tree
Daubed in ink
Wrapped in the aura
Of an idea

Sent into the cosmos,
Bent on a whole new

Someday soon,
But long after i am gone,
The book will return to the earth
(Or some other realm
Of human endeavor)

Only to nourish the soil,
And grow a forest of new ideas,
A new Creation
That lives through dying
That repeats itself
But never speaks the same utterance

--Mr. Gobley

The Heron


Above the high-tension wires, which made sheet music of the sky,
Angling across the upper left corner of the tinted window,
The heron cut an arc with its angular wings.

No sound -- perhaps a red-winged blackbird, a distant car alarm,
The HVAC system whispering "Hush" --
Only the sight of its sharp breast,
Folded like a feathered paper airplane,

Above asphalt and ragweed and manicured traffic island,
Toward the reeds and willows
Of the botanic garden,
Perhaps a prosperous pond
By a vast lakefront manse;

No matter; the sight was all,
The memory is still:
The shape and direction
Of a flight that knows itself,

Borne toward its needs, its nest,
Its origins:
Its home.

--Mr. Gobley

At my desk


At my desk i am a copilot.

My vista is grand; i see beyond the

The instrument panel
topped with talismans
(family photos, coasters,
a clock that actually ticks)

Directs my sight
Inward and outward,
Before and beyond.

i am only three stories above
a parking lot
Beside train tracks
And an office park,

But i fly
Toward meaning
High above myself

One breath at a time.

--Mr. Gobley

In Praise of Fog


In preventing clear sight, you encourage insight,
O mist of memory.
You are a galaxy of water in a universe of air;
You introduce us to the mystery of short horizons
And the ever-present possibility of

When you descend upon us--
We that are on land,
We that are warm,
That do not struggle for our very lives--

You whisper a secret,
Promise a new truth:
That when the curtain is lifted,
And the old truth is renewed,

We will newly understand
That what is brief is beautiful,
What is shrouded
Is sure to return.

--Mr. Gobley

Where the time goes


Inside the smallest movement
time lives not, and yet is breathing.
The world, made up of worlds itself,
is a life-death interweaving.

World unknown to its own self,
it unfurls by means of a breath,
to coil again within the world
of whatever self is left.

Our shoulder to the wheel of time,
we labor toward an ending.
But we cannot change the wheel's course,
unerrant and unbending.

A shard that glows will soon grow dark
and drown in the ink of night.
And here, we're taken up by time,
subsumed within its light.

Sloughing off our parchment skin,
our scaffolding of bone,
we see at last what's lit within:
our light, but not our own.

Time goes to the end of all things,
which is where all things begin;
coiling at last upon itself,
it is gone --
and here again.

--Mr. Gobley

The Highest Light


The highest light is the light within.
Descending, we ascend and win
The heavens, though they distant be,
Reposing here 'twixt you and me.

Our coldest season lights the spark
That vanquishes the roiling dark;
Our blindness ebbs toward understanding,
Furnishing the view commanding:

We constitute a constellation--
But bound up in our situation,
We see, but do not comprehend,
And strive, unto the bitter end.

Exhausted by the endless push
We never see the burning bush;
What would be the path we took,
Had we but turned aside to look?

Every tree's already lit,
Awake within, and ponder it.
Look beyond, and look again--
Perhaps you'll understand it then:

Every light is the light within,
And every thought its distant twin;
Immortal is our evanescence,
Our orbit is our very essence.

--Mr. Gobley

In Praise of a Splinter


Between the ridges of a fingerprint,

A microscopic javelin:

You have to hold up the finger

Against a dark background

Even to see it.

And yet, each time you brush it,

The whole body thrums with a

Warning, a plea:

A need.

You ask yourself:

How can something so small

So alter my outlook?

How can the barely visible

Be so unbearably insistent?

Your day is filled with such splinters.

Do you not see how finely woven you are --

How the plucking of one nerve

Awakens you to the vulnerability,

The sensitivity,

The dangerous thrill

Of simply


My splinter was the shaft

That split open my slumber.

The tiny opening it made

Let a world pour in.

i thank it.

--Mr. Gobley

Prayer After Giving Thanks


One moment of respite
Within the womb of plenty
Is worth a lifetime of gratitude.

Please teach me to give thanks
When I am bereft,
To sing hymns of praise
When I am abandoned,

And to remember the bounty
Of breath
In that instant
When it

--Mr. Gobley

Before the screen


Before the screen there was the page, the scroll, the tablet, the stone.

There was a way of seeing--understanding, envisioning, comprehending-- through reading, first for a select few, then a few more; then everyone who could read had the chance to "revise," remake, the world.

Then the mind's eye became a screen, and the screen was outside the mind, and the screen became the mind's eye.

Then the mind ceased to be a mind.

Then everyone had a screen.

And no one had a mind.

--Mr. Gobley

The First Cup of Memory


The first cup of memory
Fills the throat
With sorrow and expectation

The veins with the fuel of longing

Anticipation is Time's trollop
But memory is her angel
With the ever-turning sword.

Each present moment
Holds more past-ness;
The past grows more present.

As i look out the window
On the rising heat of the day,
I drink the first cup of memory

And turn toward my desk.

--Mr. Gobley



Your going away
Was ordained
The moment you were born.

Your return is written
But only in draft form--
Who can say
What we will feel
After all that

i find you always
In the flotsam of
Domestic duty

You appear
In the guise of
A tube of cream
A shoe tossed
With the flick of a foot
A blouse still exhaling
Your scent --

A list
In your hurried
But competent hand.

When you return
My embrace will suffuse you
With those lost moments

And me with
Your next

--Mr. Gobley

In Praise of the International Space Station


O wandering brilliance--
Avatar of our pilgrimage
Toward ourselves,

How the point of light in me
Rose to meet you
As you soared

A motive star

Across the scrim
Of the suburban night sky;

What you showed me

Was myself:
A frail enclosure
Moving across vastness

Containing life
Crossing paths
With other
Translucent vessels

On a journey that
Appears linear, finite,

But is in fact
Eternal . . .

--Mr. Gobley

Please Confirm You Are Not a Robot


i laughed out loud
when the computer
asked me to prove
i was not a robot.

i asked it to prove to me
it was not a person,

and that i, in fact,

--Mr. Gobley

Prayer for an Injured Child


O Great Healer,
Raise your mighty hand
And stop the flood of tears,
And Fear.

Exalted Engineer of Life,
Restore the soul to its strength.
Knit the bones
Back together,

Mend the gentle mind
That still cowers
At the lurching memory
Of looking into
The jaws of

Suture the wounded spirit,
Spread the salve
Of your love
Over the burning stitches.

As the turning of day into night
Gives rest to your Creation,
Let it restore
Of mind,
Body, and Spirit

To the one whose pain
Is more than my frail heart
Can carry.

Heal her,
Care for her,
Revive her,
Hold her
In the
Great Embrace 
Of your Presence.

i stand by,
A whispered prayer,
A jagged breath,
A gasp of love,
Holding vigil
In the darkness of  
The fluorescent desert.

--Mr. Gobley

The Rebirth of the Muse


When the singing of the great angels ceases,
Have they gone,
Or are they merely crowded out?
When the mind fills with lists,
Scraps of metal,
Shards of memory,

The angels cannot be heard.

One angel in particular
Shadows you,
Embraces you with light,
Cradles you in sleep,
Pulls your spirit
From the earth

Like a blade
Of new grass;
Touches a coal
To your lips

And brings forth

Storms above the soul
Cause you to wonder:
Is she gone?

She is not gone.

She is behind the maelstrom
Of detritus,
Waiting for a gap

Into which she can step.

When she steps in,
The maelstrom stops,
The scree in your skull

Falls into a sacred hole
And you are reunited with her.

Find silence every day:
Carve a space for it,
Make a time for it,
Open your arms

And she will step forward.

--Mr. Gobley

The Tree


The tree stands in silent witness.
We do our worst.
It remains a tree.

Even if we cut it down,
Send it to the mill,
Grind the stump,
Sell the planks,

The ground bears
Not only the scar
Of our angry ambition
But the silent witness
Borne by the boughs

Through the currents
Of time,
The sea of breezes
On which it rested
And grew.

There is another scar.
Where before,
Shade and shelter,
Now, bits of bark
And broken leaves:
Barbs of time.

And somewhere else--
Please, let it be near--
A root has taken hold,
A seed,
An idea,
A prayer,

Curling down
Toward the center.

--Mr. Gobley

The Contingent


All the cords connecting us
Are thin and frail.
All the fibers and filaments
That weave us together,
Illuminate us,

Depend on
That diadem
In the crown
Of brave
That wraith
That beckons
From the shore of
The ever-shifting

Let those whose cords have broken
Go on to the
That is only

Let us mend the brittle braids
Of those who ache to hold on,
And bind up the wounds
Of the weary.

There is no healing
Where there is no rest.

Bring silence,
Bring light:
Only what is sheltered
Grows strong;

Only she that
Is held
Is helped;

Only he that
Can at last

--Mr. Gobley

Pool of Souls


In the office park
There is an artificial stream
That gathers into separate
Symmetrical pools

Emerald green
(Thanks to modern chemistry),

Bereft of the
Of nature's

One pool:
A slowly circulating
Of autumn's castaways,
Dressed in a hundred hues
Of passage;

A second pool:
One leaf, poised
On upturned ends--
A miniature catamaran,

Sailing alone.

--Mr. Gobley

Past All That


The past is never
Here yet.

It is always arriving
And yet not fully here --
A train forever entering the station
Of consciousness.

The present,
So rarely apprehended
Until it is past,

Is like a doll's house
In its precious mimicry
Of all the memories
On which it's modeled.

i stand at the
Parallax point
Of this moving instant

And gaze back
At the vanishing
And yet moving union
Of the twinned trails
Of my journey.

And so
And ever so
i recede
Into the present

--Mr. Gobley

Holding on to Letting Go


Regarding the thing you find yourself aching
To let go of --
Hold on.

At least until you have found the source
Of the voice that loosens your hold.

And of that to which you would hold fast --
Let go.
What is held is merely a spectre--
The fear of loss,
Not the thing itself.

In the grip of rededication,
In the release of the newly found,
Lies the black pearl
Of all Presence:

That graceful defiance
That makes room
More life.

--Mr. Gobley

In Praise of Psalm 23


My own hymn of thanksgiving:

Whatever may come,
i shall remember,
to be grateful.

The smell of new-mown grass,
Its blades crowned with
Will gladden my heart.

(There may be no Shepherd
But we are surely sheep.)

Even in terror of my own death,
i see all encompassed before me

Through eyes that glimpse eternity,
Through hands that both restrain and revive.

And in this way am i nourished,
Despite all,


--Mr. Gobley

Prayer Over Coffee


Fossil fuel of my soul
Black light of my veins
Course through me
Quicken me

Sharpen my senses
Dull my pain
Deepen the penetrating gaze
Which i fasten
On the route
Of my

Sing to me.
Breathe your black magic
Onto the coals
Of my soul.

From the mountain of your birth
i look down
On the vale of my sorrows
And laugh.

Water is fine,
And clear;
Water nourishes the body
And restores the soul --

But to what?

When restoration is not enough,
And hope must be injected,
I stretch forth my neck.
Drunk on the black blood
Of your pulverized essence,

I howl down the avenue
Of my day
And relish the heat
And the friction
Of life
Under your

--Mr. Gobley